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Elizabeth White '17
I’m Elizabeth White and I’m a freshman this year. It will be awhile longer before I settle on a major, so for now I am enjoying the open curriculum. While my potential major changes daily, my top ideas are neuroscience or biophysics/ biochemistry. I am originally from New Hampshire, so New England winters don’t really faze me.
At the beginning of the school year, I made an impulse decision to join the crew team. It takes up a lot of time, but I love learning how to row and improving with my team. I am also a mentor for the Reader to Reader program. For this program, I read a book along with a kid and we talk about it on an online forum every night. I am still trying to sort through all the emails from various clubs I receive, and decide which ones to stick with throughout the year.
This time last year, I was in the middle of what seemed like an endless college search. Even while I was writing my college essays, I hadn’t finalized the elusive “college list”. For awhile, I wasn’t convinced that I should apply to Amherst. Needless to say, I am unbelievably happy and relieved that I did. I absolutely love Amherst College. If you have any questions, feel free to email me at email@example.com. I’d be happy to talk with you!
This semester, I became a tutor for Girls Inc. Girls Inc is a national nonprofit organization. Their motto is “inspire all girls to be strong, smart, and bold”. On Wednesday afternoons, six other tutors and I take a campus van to their building in Holyoke, which is about a half hour drive.
When we first get there, we help all of the girls with their homework. Then, we work with our personal tutee for about an hour. It’s great to establish a relationship with the girls at the program. Academics are only part of our responsibilities. We have to help the girls have fun and enjoy learning. It’s fun to find new ways to get the girls involved and laughing. I’ve learned that crayons and colored pencils make math way more fun.
As much as we help the girls, the girls help us. It’s easy to forget about life outside of campus. I’ve realized that it’s important to remember that life is still going on off campus. Tutoring at Girls Inc helps me with that. It’s nice to get off campus and see kids and adults other than professors. More than that, it’s important for me to remember that people still rely on you. I love having a break from thinking about my own school work each week.
If you have any questions, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
This weekend, my little sisters came to stay with me for the weekend. Emma and Tess are twin fourteen year olds. They only stayed Saturday until Sunday, and we had a lot of fun during their visit.
In high school, you normally live in the same town as your friends, so chances are you know (or have at least met) their families. It’s completely different in college. I know my friends really well but for the most part I have never met their families. We talk about family, but unless they live close by we don’t get a chance to meet them.
Whenever family comes to visit, it is equally exciting for the person who’s family is visiting and their friends. We are all from different lives. It’s really interesting to understand where my friends come from. Everyone was really excited to meet my sisters. We hung out with some friends all afternoon, and others would just stop by my room to say hi. My friend Jo said “It was really cool to be one of your ‘college friends. It made me feel older, and it made me remember what college visits were like (even though they weren’t here for that purpose).’”
The same is true for family. I tell my sisters about my friends, but this was their first time meeting most of them. Emma called them “the best people ever” and Tess said they were “smart, friendly, and welcoming.” It was a lot of fun for me to share my family with my friends and vice versa.
The twins reminded me of how I felt first coming to Amherst. The campus seemed huge and I never thought I’d be able to find my way around. Tess kept going the wrong direction to find the water fountain, which I must have done for weeks before I figured it out. Everyone around me was unfamiliar. Having the twins here reminded me of the excitement in all the regular parts of life here at Amherst.
If you have any questions, feel free to email me at email@example.com!
Sports at Amherst
One of the best things about Amherst is that there is always something happening on campus. There are always lectures hosted by different academic departments, food and talks at the Women’s and Gender Studies Office of the Multicultural Resource Center, and club meetings. One of my favorite things on the weekends is to go to the sports games.
It’s hard to identify what makes the games fun. Most people I talked to said “there’s just something about it”. While the games are the center of attention, there’s so much more going on. DASAC (Dancing and Stepping at Amherst College) performs during half time at some basketball games. Games are a perfect opportunity to see friends you don’t see very often.
My favorite part of the games is that we don’t cheer on the athletes - we cheer on our friends. When I’m at a women’s basketball, I’m cheering for Meredith who lives on my floor, not number thirteen. I know at least one person on each team. Knowing the players makes all the fans more engaged with the game. Athletics are a big part of Amherst. Even if you’re not an athlete, you can have fun watching.
Any juniors (or sophomores) starting to look at colleges, feel free to email me if you have any questions! Any seniors waiting anxiously to hear back from schools, let me know if you have any last minute questions! My email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow
Oh the weather outside is frightful... So let’s go out and make the most of it! If you have never experienced a New England winter, there’s no way to describe it. One day it's freezing, the next it's beautiful and sunny, and a week later there's a foot of snow. The weather forecasters have their work cut out for them, because each day is unique.
Tuesday night, there was a Fire and Ice themed Winter Carnival on campus. We got to take a break from studying and enjoy hot apple cider and desserts while watching flame throwers. My favorite part (besides the apple crisp) was admiring the ice sculptures. There were also horse drawn carriages!
The next day, a snow storm shut down campus. This may sound like a snow day, but it is nothing like snow days during high school. Professors had the option of still holding class. All three of mine did (although most of my friends’ professors did not). It was actually a really nice day. Walking through snow in between classes made the normally boring trip fun. Luckily, most of the buildings are at most a five minute walk from my dorm.
I am from New Hampshire so I’m used to snow, but a lot of my friends are not. It has been a lot of fun getting to see them experience snow for the first time. We also have the perfect reason for sledding on trays from Val, building snowmen, and having snow ball fights. The wonder of snow is wearing off for some of my friends from California, but I still love it. Classes are getting harder, but all you have to do is step outside to have some fun.
If you have any questions, please contact me at email@example.com!
In high school, classes were basically chosen for me. Junior and senior year I had a little more freedom, but all four years had the same basic structure. I would take English, Social Studies, Math, Science, Language, and an elective (usually band). This semester, it finally hit me that there isn’t a standard anymore.
Do you hate math? That’s fine, leave it behind in high school. This is my first semester without math and to be honest, I miss it. Mandatory gym class is over. Are you sick of learning a foreign language? That’s fine. Even better than not being forced to take classes you hate is the ability to take classes you love.
Have you always wanted to learn Japanese? Go ahead! Astronomy? Sure! Architecture? No problem. Amherst has an open curriculum, which basically means that you can take any and every class that you’re interested in. Since we have the Five College Consortium, you can pretty much take any class imaginable.
I started the semester knowing that I wanted to take Chemistry and Physics. I wanted to balance my schedule, but I had no idea what I should take. Thanks to shopping period, I didn’t have to know right away. The first two weeks of classes everyone can sit in on different classes and decide which ones they like.
The first day of classes, I went to four different classes: Race and American Politics, Sonic Architecture: Sound as an Anthropogenic Medium, Nature of Religion, and Greek Mythology. I ended up liking Nature of Religion, and I fell in love with Survey of Russian Literature the next day. It was a lot of fun to try out all the different classes, but I love the four I chose.
If you have any questions, email me! I’d love to help however I can!
Enjoying Reading Period
My first semester of classes is officially over! I have exams all week next week, and then I’m headed home for winter break. This was my first time having a lot of major exams all at once here, so I was a little worried. I was stressed, but luckily my professors helped me through. All of my professors extended office hours this week. They provided plenty of opportunities to ask last minute questions. Two of my professors went even further and invited their students to their homes to relax.
Professor Frank, my First-year Seminar professor, invited us all over to watch a movie on Thursday. Since we were the seminar Illness and Meaning, Contagion seemed like the obvious choice for a movie. While I personally don’t recommend the movie, the night was perfect. We got the chance to enjoy popcorn and cookies and take a break from studying. It was nice to get to know Professor Frank a little better and meet her family. Before, I wondered if it would be strange to see Professor Frank outside of the classroom. She made the night natural, relaxing, and so much fun.
My Calculus professor had an open house for all of her students Saturday night. A group and friends and I made our way through the storm to Professor Benedetto’s house. It was packed! She had food in the kitchen, Wii in the living room with her kids, and a raffle for two sleds. My friend, Kim, won a sled. After studying all day, it was the perfect break. Everyone was too busy having fun to worry about studying.
I knew that my professors would help me prepare academically for finals, but I never expected them to help me take a break and put the exam in perspective. I am so thankful for their support.
This winter break is the first time in years that I have had nothing to work on or study. Last year, it was my chance to finish my applications and start worrying about hearing back. I know that it can be stressful, so if you have any questions, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
The Magic of Study Groups
I won’t lie - last week was a busy week. It was the middle of exams, and everyone had lots of studying to do. The week was stressful, but I managed to have fun along the way.
Every night, a group of friends met up and studied together. We have tried the library, dorm rooms, and the quad before it got too cold, but my favorite place to study with friends are the common rooms in each of the dorms. I thought that a room full of people freaking out about exams and papers would be distracting, but it was really helpful. Instead of worrying, we were laughing. Once we calmed down, everyone was able to focus on studying and get a lot of work done. Whenever I needed a break to complain, or to think about something other than school work, there was someone to talk to.
Of course, no study group would be complete without snack breaks. Most of the time, someone will bring a bag of pretzels or popcorn which will be gone by the end of the night. If we’re in the mood for something different, a ten minute walk downtown leads us to lots of restaurants and stores to choose from. It may take a bit longer, but I think that getting off campus makes the break complete.
GoBerry has become a personal favorite (who thought that Key Lime Pie frozen yogurt could be so good?), but it’s nice to try something new. We decided that since we're spending money anyways, we should do our best to support as many small businesses as possible. Glazed is a bit of a further walk, but it has the best donuts I have ever tasted. Of course, it's impossible to talk about getting food without mentioning Antonio's. I thought that people were exaggerating when I first heard about it. I was wrong. I had a picture of us at FroyoWorld last night, but when we looked at it, we decided that it was best if I didn’t post it on the internet. Amherst is challenging, but with the help of a good group of friends and some junk food it is fun rather than stressful.
Better Know James 2nd Floor
It’s time for the first post in Better Know a Freshman Dorm! For all of you wondering, yes, this is inspired by Stephen Colbert’s segment Better Know a District. The first floor to make the blog is James Second Floor! It is by far the best freshman floor, and I’m sure that living here doesn’t make me biased at all.
There are twenty four people lucky enough to live on James Second. Other people hang out so much they have become honorary residents. While we do have a common room, it isn’t uncommon to hang out in the hallways with half the floor, talking and putting off studying.
Our doors are decorated by minions in different movies, courtesy of our Resident Counselor Symone. Symone says her doors are open so we can tell her all of our problems, but we also tell her when things are going well. The endless supply of chocolate in her room is yet another reason to hang out with her. She wouldn’t admit who her favorite resident is, but she did say “I like the open environment on the floor.”
Like all freshman dorms, we have weekly tea time so we can eat good food and relax as a floor. Tea time is 8 pm Sundays here. It’s optional, but almost everyone comes and enjoys cookies, hot chocolate or tea, and a chance to relax before another busy week. As Sophie Delfeus said, “We take our floor bonding very seriously.”
No one was able to pin down their favorite thing about the floor, but I think Beselot Birhanu said it best. “We’re all from such different places but for some reason we all get along so well. We share the late nights studying, but we also share the fun and the successes. It’s nice to have a group of people to share everything with. Coming back to the floor feels like coming home.”
Friday was Puppy Day! Therapy dogs filled Keefe Student Center’s Friedman Room for four hours. I still can’t decide who was happier - the college students having a much needed dose of puppy love, or the dogs surrounded by adoring people. My favorite dogs there were the Great Danes, Lilo and Tucker. My dogs at home don’t come close to Tucker’s 175 pounds. I would have stayed the entire four hours, but I had a Chemistry lab to attend.
Puppy Day couldn’t have come at a better time. The next few weeks are going to be busy, so I decided to use the weekend to relax. In addition to playing with Lilo and Tucker, I explored the Bird Sanctuary, although I must admit that my exploration was not entirely planned.
Last week, I went for a run in the Bird Sanctuary with a few people from crew. This is Emily Fitts' picture of the gorgeous trails. The views were so incredible that I forgot about how much I usually hate running. This weekend, I decided that the peace of the Bird Sanctuary would be a perfect break from schoolwork. I thought that I remembered our path well enough to find my way alone. I thought wrong. My three mile run turned into five. It would have been longer, but a helpful Amherst student told me that I was running away from campus when I thought I was running home. While the extent of my run was unintentional, I loved every moment of it. It was five miles of serenity surrounded by the beautiful fall foliage. Amherst is a challenging environment, but it's easy to take a break from work and relax.
This weekend, Amherst was full of high school seniors from the DIVOH program. Talking with them made me remember how confused and excited I was I while applying to colleges. If you have any questions, please email me! My email is email@example.com. I would love to talk with you, whether you have a specific question or just want to know more about Amherst in general.